Eat like a Local in Japan

Japan is home to a bevy of Michelin-starred restaurants – Tokyo has more than any other city – but don't overlook the delectable street food served from mobile stalls.
July 2021

There are also plenty of opportunities for hands-on lessons here, whether it's learning how to make authentic sushi or following the instructions of a tea master. Here is a plateful of must-dos and must-tastes during your Japanese gourmet holiday.

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Toyosu Market tour and sushi making

Toyosu Market, which replaced the historic Tsukiji Fish Market in 2018, is the perfect place to discover the sea-to-fork culture in Tokyo. There are ready-to-eat bites always within sight, and the day’s freshest catch lined up on display. In the morning, watch the tuna auction take place within this vibrant market atmosphere. Afterwards, it’s time to step into the kitchen for an introductory sushi-making lesson to discover this icon of Japanese dining.

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Tokyo street food tour

One Tokyo experience that shouldn’t be missed is a street food tour, where you can sample some new and tasty bites. Try takoyaki – fried and battered octopus served with green onions and a tasty savoury sauce. Shioyaki is fire-cooked mackerel which comes served on a stick and seasoned with salt – a simple but exquisite snack. Another street food staple that needs to be tried is kate pan, a sweet bread filled with Japanese curry. We can take you on a taste tour around a variety of venues, from street-side stalls to tiny pubs known only to the locals.

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Tea ceremony in a Zen temple

One of the most exciting ways to understand the Japanese take on cuisine is to go behind the scenes in one of Kyoto's Zen temples. Meet with a tea master for an exclusive ceremony, and listen as the important connection between Zen Buddhism and tea is explained. The formal tea ceremony is an essential part of life in Japan, and the quite composure is demonstrated in tatami rooms across the country, where the spiritual elements of tea are combined with the soothing precision of the ceremony.

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Dinner with a maiko

In Kyoto, another iconic way to experience food is to take an atmospheric walk through the charming streets of Gion, the city's Geisha district, before a truly special dinner. Enjoy the company of a Maiko, an apprentice Geisha, who’ll keep you entertained with fascinating conversation, revealing some of the mystery surrounding their lives. Enjoy their graceful traditional dances too, before a round of lively local drinking games. The food comes in a variety of courses offering a huge range of flavours, and you’ll leave with a head full of wonder at this extraordinary culture.

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Osaka Street Food Tour

Famous for its food, Osaka is home to many original flavours and recipes, and the city is full of mobile street stalls where you can find the best and most bizarre snacks. As you meander between bars and stalls, try kushikatsu, a kind of Japanese kebab loaded with grilled and deep-fried meat, as well as yakiniku, a charcoal barbecue of bite-sized meats and vegetables. And keep an eye out for Osaka’s tasty take on takoyaki. Admire the city sights as you wander from stall to stall and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of Osaka at night.

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Sip your way through a sake masterclass

The innumerable incarnations of Japan’s national beverage are celebrated throughout the world for their infinitely diverse flavour profiles. Put your palate to the test as you sample a flight of sakes handpicked from the 41 breweries on offer at Tokyo’s Meishu Centre, led on your flavour journey by a local expert.

Lunch with Ama divers

Giving some credibility to ancient myths of mermaids out to sea, the Ama divers of Okinawa are a women-only group of free divers. For centuries, they’ve headed beneath the waves in search of pearls, oysters, abalone, seaweed and shellfish. Head to Mikimoto Pearl Island to learn about this long-standing tradition and witness an Ama demonstration. Afterwards, journey to the town of Osatsu, and visit the hut of an Ama diver who will prepare an array of splendid grilled seafood. Learn more about their unique culture at the Ama Culture Museum, before venturing to Ishigami Shrine, where the divers of old would pray for safety and a good catch.

Hungry for more? reach out to our Journey Designers or talk to your travel agent and start planning your own gastronomic adventure.